Have you ever stopped and wondered, really wondered, where is the origin of things that feel like they belong to you, or possibly, that you belong to them? Ever since my return from the woods last month, I have been turning this over and over in my mind. How does it feel so right, such places? Why, in places devoid of the measurements and barometers of success, the trappings and glitter of civilization, can I feel so beautiful and rich internally? How, when my outward physical presentation to the world is anything but beautiful, can I feel the glow of real beauty running through my veins? Why am I so at peace there? Why do my eyes and ears seem to work so differently during that space in time?
Creativity, the muse of which darts back and forth, hiding, coming out for a moment and then running away while here in the city, seemed to be sitting on my shoulder during all of my little expeditions abroad from camp. Yet I wrote very little while there. Instead, when I am back here in this tiny little place, burdened with the fact of making a living, which interrupts true living, those feelings, thoughts, visions and sounds seem to come rushing out of my pores, and I get to enjoy it again and again in my mind. And it makes me more mindful of the beauty here and now, when I have, no, make, the time to stop and experience it.
Perhaps it is the structure of time there. Freed from the constraints that define time while answering to an employer, time opens up like an ocean, instead of rushing by like the grains of sand in an hour-glass, marking itself. I am well aware that vacationing in the country is far different than living there, as I have done both. But even in the living, time felt different. There were plenty of instances over and over, where I felt the pull of time, like when mowing needed doing before it got away with me. But the pace is slower, less hurried, even while the days are more fully packed with things needing done. I can’t really explain it.
As I usually do when I visit places that make me feel good, I brought back mementos from my camping visit. An empty tortoise shell, which by bringing it home, enabled me to discover that the patterned parts come off. Underneath is what really looks like bone. The little plates are so delicately thin and fragile. I, for some reason, always thought the patterns were IN the shell. See, you can always learn something. There is also a tail from a cottontail rabbit, some birch bark, leaves I wasn’t familiar with, soft feathers from the site of a bird killing, a geode and a large, flat stone. Why do I do this? I can’t really say exactly. The only reasoning behind it that I can truly fathom is that by bringing home ‘touchstones’ of a place that moved me, I can, via touch, mentally transport myself back there. In my mind’s eye, I can recall exactly what I was doing when I found each of those things. I remember piling them up in my tent carefully, wrapping them in brown paper, and nestling them down in a container to insure safe travel home. Or perhaps I am just terribly odd, lol!
It is not usually THE location, but the type of location, or the feeling of the place. The more remote, the better my skin feels. I remember when my husband and I lived in NE TN, in the year before he died, the extreme beauty available to us through just walking or hiking around the area. Bright salamanders in little creeklets, just sitting while the low-flow water ran over them. A giant paper wasp nest hanging from a barbed wire fence, long abandoned but truly fascinating in structural interest. Seeing my first bloodroot in the wild, learning to ID american ‘sang, the first time I saw a mayapple and other discoveries that, while normative and part of growing up for many, were totally new and exciting to me. Every time I go to the woods, I feel that rush of ‘what’s possible!’ go through my veins. And the woods never let me down either.
Leaving the city provided me with experiences that were new to me, experiences that drew me close to what I feel is the natural order of things. Give to the soil, the soil gives back. Pay attention to the landscape, and the landscape will dazzle you with hidden treasures. Listen to the creek or the river, and you will learn a new song. I have never been bored or lonely while in the country (or truthfully, anywhere). But I have lived the life of a gypsy, settling the longest in my life in one place for a grand total of six years. Since I left home at seventeen, I’ve moved 24 times, lived in four states, in the mountains, on the beaches, in the woods, and lived in everything from under 200 square feet to over 3,000 square feet, in the last thirty-five years of my life. I, apparently, thrive on change. I’ve considered living in an RV and moving from place to place as a means to make a living, or care-taking at different places, wherever that might take me. Is this the permanent me, the gypsy? Or am I still seeking that ‘forever’ place? I truly thought Sunflower Solace Farm would be that for me – I envisioned growing old there. Life always seems to have different plans for me once I settle on a definitive answer to things 🙂 Partners, jobs, places, seem to be transient for me. But I know other people who’ve settled in one place and never moved, have hardly even ever left their state. By the time I was fifteen, I had seen most of the U.S. already, by traveling with my family. Perhaps, if you never see, touch or experience other places, then the seed of ‘what might be’ is never planted in your blood. Or, if you take a less romantic vision of this notion, the seed of discontent can never grow. I’ve always wondered, ‘what if?’ What does that quality translate into for anyone considering me for a partner? Will they see me as a colorful balloon that they can tie to their post for a while, before letting me loose and flying along on my next journey or, will they see me as a hot air balloon, in which they can jump into the basket with me? It is only a recent unveiling of another segment of me that I am dealing with.
I never felt that way about my partners, or really about my jobs, once settled into my IT path. But that path is growing tedious after seventeen years, and writing or other such creative endeavors pull at me. Money of course, is always the issue in the end, that stands between loving what you do, and doing what makes a living. As I continue to explore other possibilities while sticking to what I know, I roll these things around in my very active brain all of the time. It’s rarely quiet in there 🙂
All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
T.E. Lawrence @ brainyquotes.com
And that my readers, is what has been on my mind for nearly two weeks now. Have fun with it!
Be well. Know yourself. Explore the why behind things. Always be honest, first with yourself.